World bank to provide Lebanon with $500 million for ecomic reforms


The World Bank plans to provide about 500 million dollars over four years to help economic reforms in Lebanon, one of the world’s most indebted countries, a senior bank official said on Wednesday.

“We are working on providing support to Lebanon in the neighborhood of about 500 million dollars … in the hope that it will be used for economic reform,” said Shamshad Akhtar, the World Bank’s vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa.

“From our perspective we are extremely impressed by the leadership of the ministry of finance … to launch far-reaching economic reforms in Lebanon that pave the way for sustainable economic growth,” he told a news conference in Beirut.

Lebanon is recognised for its solid banking structure, but is weighed down by a cumbersome 50 billion dollars debt that was accumulated since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. In 2005, Lebanon was promised a World Bank aid package of 100 million that would progressively grow to 700 million dollars if the country stayed on track with reforms.

But the programme was derailed after a war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, and the political crisis that followed, paralyzed the government.In particular, Lebanon must reduce a large deficit at the state-owned electric company that drains 3 percent of gross domestic product. AFP



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